‘ The public receives an ‘ vintage ’ Mahesh Babu in Maharshi ’

Timing Is Everything, They Say. If Something Has To Happen, It Will Be At The Right Place At The Right Place For The Right Reasons. And It Seems That Mahesh Babu 's Maharshi' Landmark 'seems To Have Written. First Of All, It Is Coincidentally The 25th Superstar Film. Second, It Comes Out In The Year That Marks His Two Decades Long Journey As A Leading Hero. And Last But Not Least, He Sees Him Playing A Role For The First Time With Three Different Shades - That Of A Student, A Businessman Of A Billionaire And A Farmer. Mahesh Says However, It's All Serendipity:" Vamshi Told Me The Story Exactly Three Years Ago. I Liked It Right Away But Asked Him If He Could Wait Two Years Because I Had Signed Two Other Films And Had No Dates" I'll Wait For The Next Five Years If I Have To; I Can't See Anyone Else Playing Rishi," He Said Without Blinking." I Am Glad That He Did That, Because In Maharshi The Public Will See A 'vintage' Mahesh Babu , I Assure You," Says The Actor, Satisfying With A Chat Hyderabad Times .

Maharshi Will See You In Three Different Avatars ... What Was It Like To Slide In Different Looks, Time Frames And Mindscape Of The Same Character?

Well, The Movie Follows The Journey Of Rishi, My Character, Through Different Phases Of His Life And To Be Honest, That's What Excited Me The Most When I Heard The Script. But At The Same Time, I Was A Little Scared As Well Because Three Different Time Frames Meant Different Looks, Different Mannerisms, A Distinct Change In Personality. I Was Confident That I Could Play Convincingly Rishi, The Super Successful CEO And Also Rishi, The Farmer, Who Goes Back To His Village And His Roots. It's Only Rishi, The College Student, That Made Me Nervous. More So, Because It's Not Some 5-10 Minute Black-and-white Montage Played As Flashback. It's A Solid 45-minute-long Segment Of The Film, So It Meant I Had To Look Like A Student Convincingly During That Entire Stretch. It Did Seem A Wee Bit Of Unnerving When I Pondered Whether I Can Pull It Off Or Not. I Even Told Vamshi As Much ...

So, Would You Say You Pulled It Out?

I Guess You Could Say I Did Pull It Off, After All (smiles). You See, I've Been In The Industry For Nearly Two Decades; I Have Done 25 Films. So When I Heard Vamshi Say," You Have To Play A Student ..." It Felt A Little Difficult To Digest. More Than Looking Like A College Student, The Challenge Was To Get The Mannerisms, The Body Language, The Lingo Etc., Right. And It's Not Just About Me Getting It All Right; The Audience Should Also Like It. But Once We Took Up The Challenge, Everything Fell In Place. We Shot The College Parts In Dehradun And Just 10 Days Into The Shoot, We Knew We Were On The Ball. It's Been A While Since The Audience I Was A College Student, So It's A Big Delight For Them. I Am Confident That They Will Be Thrilled Seeing Me. I Have To Thank Vamshi For Making Me Believe That I Could Do It.

We See Your Plowing, Sowing, And Dirt Your Feet In The Trailers What Was It Like To Play A Farmer?

In One Word - Heart Warming! I Got To Experience Every Little Thing Our Farmers Do - From Plowing To Driving A Tractor, To Getting Knee-deep Into Fields To Plant Saplings. These Are Scenes That Cannot Be Acted Out; You Have To Live Them. And That's What I Did. It Was An Amazing Experience. It Taught Me So Much About The Challenges Every Single Farmer Faces And The Hardships They Go Through To Put Food On Our Table. It Was An Eye Opener Or Sorts. I Only Have Respect For Farmers In Our Country And World Over.

Sounds Much Like Your Role Srimanthudu - Rich Guy Goes Back To The Village To Give Back ....

No, There Is No Similarity Between The Two. In Srimanthudu, I Played A Billionaire Who's Born With A Silverspoon. But In Maharshi, Rishi Is A Middle-class Guy Who Works His Way Up And Becomes A CEO. Later, He Goes Back To The Village. It's All About Rishi's Run For Material Success And Later, His Evolution To Seek For More Holistic Success, That's Beyond Money. Both Srimanthudu And Bharat Ane Nenu , Were Very Powerful Films. One Was About Adopting A Village While The Other Spoke Of Accountability. Maharshi Too Will Have An Emphatic Message. I'm Very Proud To Be Part Of Something Like This.

How Did It Work With Your Co-stars, Allari Naresh And Pooja Hegde ?

We are collegemates in the film, so the bonding And friendship between us is very crucial to the story. And we bonded so well that when you see us on screen, it will all look very young And fresh. In the process, I also got to know them better, especially Naresh. He is a very calm person — a total contrast from his boisterous onscreen personality. I am thankful to him for accepting this role. I must also mention that Pooja was an amazing co-star. We had a lot of fun moments; we partied And we also celebrated Naresh’s birthday. It was a blast.

Recently, Hollywood Actor And Director Bill Duke Said He Wants To Work With You For An Espionage Film ... Is Hollywood On The Anvil?

I don’t want to sound controversial here, but really, doesn’t he have anything better to do ? (laughs). I find it hard to believe that he would want to work with a Tollywood star. Having said that, I think it’s a huge compliment. Who wouldn’t want to collaborate with a big star like him ? That said, I’m not eying Hollywood or Bollywood. I’ve said that in the past as well. Look at Rajamouli. Today he’s a pan-India director And his films are being dubbed in many regional languages. We are a powerful industry with huge budgets. If we want to achieve bigger things, we can do it right here. we don’t need to go anywhere else for that.

Your films go to the US, Europe And many other markets as it is...

Yes, And it makes me really happy to know there is so much love for me from across the globe. When we were shooting at Empire State Building in New York And other places in the US, we met quite a few fans who travelled long distances just to meet me. I’m very grateful for all their love And support for every film of mine.

What's Next?

My next film is with Anil Ravipudi, which we are planning to start by the end of June And I am very kicked about that. I am going to come out of my comfort zone after a long time And do an out-and-out commercial entertainer like Dookudu . I haven’t done a commercial entertainer like that for a long time now, so I’m looking

forward to it. It will be like one of those films where the hero does a lot of comedy And action.